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Right axis deviation is an unusual pattern in the direction taken in the movement of electrical signals through the heart. It can be indicative of heart problems in a patient and is determined by looking at the results of an electrocardiogram procedure. In patients with this issue, the axis, a measurement of the direction taken by electrical signals as they move through the heart, is over 105 degrees. Treatment of patients with this type of ECG result depends on the underlying cause.
In certain people, some right axis deviation is normal. Tall, thin adults tend to naturally exhibit some, as do children and athletes, because of the position of the heart in the chest. People can also be born with it and may not experience health problems if it is congenital, while in other cases it can be a sign of a congenital birth defect. Chronic pulmonary disease is also a potential cause.
When this pattern in the electrical signals of the heart is identified, a medical professional reviews a patient's history for earlier signs and asks him or her about any health changes recently experienced. If a patient has, for example, a chronic pulmonary condition and has noticed a worsening of symptoms, this is a cause for concern. The precise measurement of the deviation is also a topic of discussion. A relatively minor deviation might not be a cause for concern when paired with no changes in the patient's health and no history of problems.
If a patient has right axis deviation because of a health problem, the underlying medical issue must be treated or more effectively managed. Options for treatment and management can include surgery, medications, and sessions with a pulmonary therapist to address breathing disorders. The patient will be monitored for signs of changes, and may be educated about warning signs of complications like chest pain and shortness of breath so patients can seek medical help if the deviation gets more significant.
Once diagnosed, patients should make sure that the issue is noted on his or her medical chart and discussed with emergency medical personnel when care is required. Being aware that it's a preexisting condition will allow care providers to provide more effective and accurate care, as they won't waste time identifying the source and cause if they know it's been observed and noted in routine medical examinations in the past.
A doctor knowing about a patient's right axis deviation also helps in deciding if a patient's right atrial enlargement (as shown by an ECG readings) correlates with the presence of cardiac disease. Right atrial enlargement alone has a low probability of correlating with cardiac disease; however, right atrial enlargement with right axis deviation may correlate with having cardiac disease.